Beauty is a moving target

I look into the mirror. What do I see? An imperfect complexion, a chubby tummy and, most of all, huge hips. I’m short, stout and with a 14 inch difference between my waist and hips, incredibly curvy. But most of all I see beautiful. I know I’ll never be a model, nor will I ever fit into the column of classic beauty. It doesn’t matter, because when I look in the mirror I see not what I can improve, but what I love about myself and what I love most about myself is that I am unique. This is a positive trend that is catching on in younger generations.

More and more, I see the image of beauty change. No longer are rail thin girls considered as beautiful as they once were. In fact, this past week on America’s Next Top Model, Anamaria Merdita was cut from the show for being too thin. It was a decision that I’m sure shocked many people. A model who is too thin? It’s almost unheard of. Tyra Banks, however, has been an advocate for beauty of this type. In fact, she has in the past cast plus size models (a girl my size being cast as a plus size model scares me), a transgender model and a burn victim. None of these fit into the view of beauty that is said to be typical of our generation. But now for the real question: is our view truly changing?

Speaking personally, I know mine has. It has taken a lot to get from the point of feeling ugly to knowing that I am beautiful and that the opinion I need to worry about is my own. There are more people advocating the idea that beauty is something unique to each of us and we need to embrace this. Another example is Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty where they use average women in their ads, women who are imperfect. And let’s face it, there isn’t a woman out there who is perfect. We all have flaws and that is what makes us beautiful and unique. Cosmopolitan even recently put out a story talking about women’s weight issues and how the Hollywood size zero is going out of fashion.

So, why the gradual change of opinion? Trends come and go, this is fact. There was a point in time where being heavier was considered to be a sign of wealth and status. Now we’re going into a trend that emphasizes everyone’s unique beauty. Perhaps this is the next step of feminism, but I think it’s more than that. I think we’re coming to a point where we realize that everyone has unique emotional needs and should have the right to pursue them. Just as the theory of equal rights was once a new frontier, a new right has emerged: the right to be individuals and be beautiful in our own way.

Even with all the advocates for real beauty, I see a lot girls slathering on make-up and wearing skimpy clothes because that’s what they see as beautiful. As a camp counselor, some of the girls in my charge have confided in me that they don’t feel comfortable not wearing make-up, or that they think they’re fat or ugly. So, clearly the message isn’t getting out to everyone.

It makes me wonder how many girls know that Marilyn Monroe was estimated as being between a size 12 and a size 16. It’s certainly close to the average of women in North America. Or how many girls know that many guys are completely oblivious to the fact that the girls are wearing make-up, or that some guys really do prefer voluptuous girls, just as some prefer thin girls. What it comes down to is a matter of opinion. For those who haven’t gotten the memo yet, here’s me saying it now, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Everyone has different tastes and finds different things attractive. So maybe instead of worrying about being that photoshopped monster you see in the pages of a magazine, focus on being yourself. Being an average weight is not an imperfection.

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